Taipei, Taiwan

Our first stop in Taiwan was Taipei, partly because it’s the capital city so it seemed like a good idea but also partly for the fairly obvious reason that it’s where we had to fly to! Jan had already been in Taiwan a week at that stage, but in a place just outside Taipei where the conference he was attending was being held. He moved to our hotel the day before I arrived and came to pick me up from the airport when I landed. We then picked up the rental car that Jan had booked for the week and drove to Taipei. I landed at around 4:30 p.m. so by the time I’d picked up my suitcase and we’d driven back to Taipei it was fairly late. I had a quick shower then there was only one thing to do… head out for food! We decided to head to the Shilin Night Market, which is among the most famous night markets. We ate spicy meat on sticks (like kebabs) and then steamed bread dumplings – one filled with meat and spices and one filled with either spring onion or chives. Both were delicious. Here are a few impressions from the market:

The next morning, we headed out bright and early after breakfast. It was already over 30°C and very humid, but since this was our only day in Taipei, out we had to go! Our first stop was Lungshan Temple (or Longshan… there are different spellings) because it had been recommended to Jan. It was certainly beautiful, but extremely crowded. A little boy burnt me with an incense stick! My favourite part was all the brightly coloured dragons adorning various parts of the roof. I took quite a few photos of them because I loved the way they looked against the bright blue sky.

Next, we headed towards the Dadaocheng district. Jan said there weren’t any useful Metro stops along the way, so we decided to walk. It was boiling hot and while we were walking we didn’t see a single place to buy a cold drink! Where we were staying, there were iced tea places on every corner, but not on the way to Dadaocheng! By the time we got there, I was so hot and thirsty I thought I might faint! We bought some what we thought was water at a tiny, dusty shop. Actually, it turned out to be something called “No Sweat”, a horridly sweet, vaguely medicinal tasting drink that I assume is supposed to be consumed after sports. I drank half of it anyway just because it was cold. The Dadaocheng District is one of the oldest parts of Taiwan. We walked down a street that seemed to consist solely of shops selling dried fruits and medicinal herbs. Seriously, every shop had the same selection of dried fruits! I wonder how any of them stay in business! At the top of the street was a little park with a statue of the Taiwanese songwriter Lee Lin-Chiu. An information board said that he used to live in the district and wrote many of his songs there.

On our way back down the street, we bought ice creams made using bean curd. They were interesting! Not as sweet as the icecream I’m used to. Them, since the main train station wasn’t too far away, we decided to go there because Jan wanted to show it to me and we could take the Metro from there. The main hall is huge, but feels surprisingly uncrowded! We spotted a bubble tea stand and decided to grab a drink. I wasn’t too impressed! You can see my reaction here. Then we hopped on a Metro, quickly stopped off at the hotel to pick up some more money and have a wash then headed to the 101 tower – probably Taipei’s most famous landmark. We got there just as the sun was setting, which made for a nice view. It then got dark very quickly!

Once we’d finished at the top of the tower, we headed back down to the bottom where there was a food court. We each took a set menu consisting of a soup, noodle dish and something else. Mine was supposed to come with pig’s blood soup but I was given the fish/meat soup from all the other menus. Not being able to speak Chinese, I’m not sure whether there was no pig’s blood soup or she assumed that as a Westerner I wouldn’t really want it. My shrimp sticks were delicious. In the picture below, on the plate behind the soup bowl furthest from me is oyster omelette… the worst thing I’ve ever put in my mouth! Even caviar (which I hate) is nothing compared to oyster slime! The meaty bits of oyster themselves were surprisingly okay, but the slime… ugh! Nothing could have prepared me for that!

Food, glorious(?) food!
Food, glorious(?) food!

Once we were back outside, we spent quite some time trying to take photos of the lit up tower (not easy without a tripod!), then it was time to head back to the hotel and repack our suitcases ready to leave for our next destination the following morning.

~ Taiwan was my August trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge with Claire at Need Another Holiday. It also counts towards my 35 before 35 as the destination for “Visit a continent I’ve never been to before~

Nothing, really

This seems to be becoming my default blog post recently… in the absence of any one thing worth writing a whole post on, it’s all about the little snippets from my every day life. Bullet points that say nothing, really…

  • More than a month after we were told my grandpa had days to live he’s still hanging on in there. He’s been moved to a different hospital in the town my grandma lives in (much more convenient!) and my dad said last week that he’s not really drinking any more, so he was going to get put on a drip so he doesn’t dehydrate.
  • I’m now halfway through my week of eating peanuts while the boyfriend is away and I’ve discovered that I don’t like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (too sickly!) but I could eat Reese’s Pieces all day. They are YUM! Maybe it’s a good thing I normally try to avoid peanut related foods…
  • I don’t know if it’s because the weather has turned cold again or how absolutely crazy work’s been lately, but this week I’ve been sooo tired. I was in bed by 9:30 last night and still didn’t want to get up this morning.
  • Once a month, I go out for a meal with my colleagues.  This month’s meal is tonight and we’re going for Asian food. Just thinking about it makes me drool. I see Peking Duck in my future!
  • I’ve just discovered that the TV channel SIXX shows an episode of ER at 6:30 p.m. every evening. The other day, I watched the one where Romano gets squished by a helicopter! It’s still weird watching it in Germany (I keep thinking “but that’s not his voice!”), but it’s still fun to watch it… a bit like visiting old friends. Sure, I could just watch my DVDs (I have the box sets of seasons 1-5) but watching it on TV is somehow a different experience… even if it is in the wrong language 😉
  • My little brother is coming to visit me in July! I haven’t had a visitor since my sister and her boyfriend came in 2012 (for the Formula 1) so this is very exciting news.

And that’s all from me. I have a few plans this weekend, so hopefully after that I’ll have something more interesting to tell you. In the mean time, if you’re currently trying to learn a language (any language) go and read this absolutely fantastic post by Lady of the Cakes: Language Matters: Do You Sound Like Yourself?